When my Filipino sister-in-law opened my refrigerator and spotted my jar of pre-minced garlic, you would have thought I committed a crime by the look on her face. For those that don’t know, traditional Filipino food is all about that punchy garlic flavor. It’s a way of life.
She asked, “No fresh garlic?” in disbelief as she stood waiting by the open refrigerator door.
“No, I use this for convenience,” I quickly shot back as I grabbed the jar from the shelf, handing it to her with a reassuring smile.
Slightly hesitant and a little irritated, she took the jar from my hand, emptied scoopfuls of garlic into her pancit and prepared her beloved dish as usual. To her surprise, her favorite meal turned out as garlicky as ever. And shockingly, no one knew the difference!
So, when it comes to fresh versus pre-minced garlic, is it ever okay to use the jarred stuff? In this case, it was perfectly fine.
Fresh Garlic Vs. Pre-Minced Garlic
There’s no doubt that fresh garlic reigns king in the flavor department. But, it’s time-consuming to peel its irritatingly paper-thin shell, and mincing garlic can be a pain. Plus, the smell can linger on your fingers for what seems like forever. However, the flavor it adds to your dishes is unbeatable, especially when you’re trying to impress dinner guests.
On the other hand, pre-minced garlic offers up subtle hints of garlicky flavor but lacks the distinct and flavorful punch. This is where the debate comes in. Are you really going to substitute flavor for convenience?! Well, let’s talk about it.
A Case for Pre-Minced Garlic
In my opinion, it’s okay to use pre-minced garlic. But before you clutch your pearls, ask yourself if you use the following items; shredded bags of cheddar cheese, dried herbs, dry pasta, canned tomato sauce and canned bread crumbs. If you answered yes, the reason is probably because of the convenience of the ingredients.
Although these popular grocery store items may not the most flavorful in comparison to their fresher counterparts, we often include them in our grocery list to make meal prep less hectic. And, yeah, sometimes we may have the time to pretend to be Martha Stewart and go all out, but if you don’t have the time, it’s okay to take up some shortcuts.
When to Use Pre-Minced Garlic in Recipes
The short answer to this question is whenever you’d like, but there are some helpful tips to help you get the most out of your jarred garlic.
First, make sure you substitute about half a teaspoon for every fresh garlic clove. Additionally, jarred garlic is less robust than fresh garlic, so you can always get away with adding a little more, especially if you enjoy a more pronounced flavor. However, if garlic is going to be the main star in a recipe, you may want to opt for fresh cloves.
Additional Perks Of The Jarred Stuff
One great perk of the jarred stuff is that it lasts forever. Pre-minced garlic can easily outlast fresh garlic any day, making it a kitchen staple!
Another perk is you’re helping minimize the amount of food waste when you opt for pre-minced garlic.
The FDA estimates that between 30 and 40% of food gets wasted, and that’s definitely true when it comes to fresh ingredients. Have you ever made a recipe that called for two or three cloves of fresh garlic? You go to the store, purchase a bundle of garlic, use the cloves needed and then the rest of the garlic sits in the fridge until it spoils and needs to be thrown out. But with jarred garlic, you can just scoop out what’s needed, twist the cap back on and save it for later.
Pre-minced garlic also can spice up a plethora of dishes. It blends so well into homemade soups, sauces, marinades and stir-fry. Additionally, it serves as a great alternative to garlic powder when making garlic bread or adding a little kick to roasted vegetables.
But remember, if garlic is going to be the star of a dish, then maybe opt for the fresh stuff, but that doesn’t automatically disqualify pre-minced garlic as a suitable candidate for everyday cooking. On the contrary, it’s an excellent idea to have this handy ingredient in your kitchen to mimic garlic’s signature taste.